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Comedy Round Mine April 2019 - New Wimbledon Theatre Studio

The thing about a small crowd at a comedy gig is that one could sit at the rear of the auditorium and still get picked on in the introductory, ‘hello, what’s your name, where do you come from and what do you do for a living?’ section. I probably look about as boring as I am – heartless bastard with no time or energy for a love life after the day job, then seeing 300 live performances a year and reviewing the vast majority of those (as if I have the money to pay to see 300 shows a year). So, I wasn’t asked to interact. I might as well have had the words ‘No Audience Participation’ printed on my forehead. The problem with that, of course, is that such a sign will be taken as an open invitation. I can’t win. Anyway, three acts performed at this ‘Comedy Round Mine April 2019’ (that’s honestly what it was called) at the Time and Leisure Studio in Wimbledon town centre, a handy twenty-minute walk home for me afterwards.

I got the impression Carly Smallman brings her comedy show to Wimbledon fairly often, but the Monday night slot is a bit of a graveyard one – I suspect even a Sunday night would have resulted in a few more people coming through the doors. Nonetheless, she managed to make some straightforward stories about how some couples sat in the front row met more amusing than they were with the benefit of hindsight, though one ‘couple’ wasn’t a couple at all. Having struck up a friendship whilst tending to adjacent allotments, the older man, an octogenarian, ‘adopted’ the younger woman, so his ‘daughter’ drives him around and generally makes sure he’s all right. Aww.

Wendy Wason spoke about what it is like to raise children – a challenging experience, to say the least. The parents in the room identified well with it all and people like me sat there and found her stories to be assuring affirmations of our decisions not to go down the route of getting married and raising a family. Out of context, some might have taken umbrage with the element in her routine of – in effect – taking the mickey out of the sort of things children with a limited worldview say. Her children, as everyone else’s are, are growing up quickly, and there are awkward moments to chuckle at, such as when she is introduced to ‘Grand Theft Auto’ by a child. Closing gambit: “always pay the prostitute”.

Joe Sutherland grew up in Coventry and later moved to the capital, but still finds misconceptions of what a same-sex relationship is like abound pretty much everywhere. His boyfriend is rather more muscular in appearance than he is – the boyfriend wasn’t there, so I must take Sutherland at his word. But what irritates Sutherland is that people like to assume, in so many words, that it’s the boyfriend that “wears the trousers”. The whole point, Sutherland muses, of a relationship that comprises two men, is that they both wear trousers, both literally and figuratively. Millennial culture and mannerisms also came in for a bit of a beating. A bittersweet but nonetheless enjoyable set.

Ninia Benjamin had come down from Chingford, and there was a lengthy description about how she dislikes the London Overground – miss one, and it’s a fifteen-minute wait – so was quite happy taking the Northern line to South Wimbledon (with a train every three minutes). She’s one of those people that portrays themselves as less intellectual than they really are. An example – confusing ‘Brexit’ for ‘breadsticks’, her argument in favour of Remain consisted of the potential loss of multipack chocolate bars that were made in the EU. I think that’s what it was, anyway – I had trouble keeping up with her quick-fire routine. She talked about her fanny quite a lot, too, and I liked a punchline about never becoming a vegan because, if I may put it slightly more politely than she did, semen is not plant-based. Certain vegans will grumble and say that it’s fine to swallow because no animals are harmed during blowjobs. But most people, irrespective of their dietary requirements, will recognise a joke for what it is.

People in the entertainment industry sometimes mention supporting local theatre – though I am in a relatively unique position of having the West End less than an hour away from my front door. But every so often it is a good thing to pop down to see something in one’s own part of the world.

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